What will this mean for the energy industry?
The RET agreement will prompt substantial investment in wind and solar. Australia has many good quality wind projects, such as our own Stockyard Hill Wind Farm, which has already received planning approval.
We estimate that a 33 TWh LRET will require about 5,000 MW of wind farms to be built by 2020, or at least 12 large projects like Stockyard Hill. This is a lot to build in a relatively short period of time. To put this in context, Australia-wide we currently have about 4,000 MW of wind farms in operation, and this has been built gradually over the past 15 years. The wind industry has expressed confidence that it can meet this challenge. But it will also face strong competition from the solar industry. Large scale solar farms are increasingly economic and may provide a viable alternative to wind farms.
Solar has a significant role to play in helping us to reduce carbon emissions from our electricity supply, and this market and the technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
Around 360,000 of our customers have solar systems, and we’ve directly installed more than 80,000 of those systems. New solar products are evolving which open up the technology to a larger market, and commercial-scale solar is becoming increasingly attractive for businesses. The first wave of battery storage is also coming, which could add flexibility to the way small solar systems are used in the household and increase its appeal to a new range of customers.
Renewable energy will play a central role in how we power the future, and Australia’s new RET agreement supports the development of renewables in the short term. We don't yet know exactly which renewable technologies will evolve the fastest and prove the most efficient and economic over the long term. But we do know the future looks bright for renewable energy in Australia.